It began with a video I saw on Facebook.
Some weeks later Guy mentioned he’d also seen it. Interesting concept: this guy who wants to eat meat, while also reducing his environmental footprint, produces a plant-based fake meat that is more convincing than these types of products have been before.
And then Tween mentioned yet again how he’d like to for once taste chicken, since he’s never had it and all his friends have. Teen felt the same during middle school years, the increased desire for independence bumping up against family values. We get it.
So on a recent trip to Whole Foods we purchased a package of Beyond Meat Grilled Chicken Strips.
Teen lumbered into the kitchen just as I pulled “the chicken” from the fridge, asking the inevitable question: “What’s for dinner?”
I held up the package.
His face belied confusion and skepticism, and in that look I saw that our family values have, indeed, taken hold.
He wasn’t sure he wanted “real meat.”
I feel the same. It’s funny, really, as I didn’t intend all those years ago to become a vegetarian. I simply went without meat so long that I lost the digestive enzymes. When I tried to eat it, meat made me sick. And so, just as unintentionally, I lived into the ethics of meat-free and plant-based eating.
Now I have a confused relationship with fake meat. I don’t miss real meat, and I don’t think I need fake meat, but once in a while the texture or flavor allows for variety and pleasure in my plant-based diet. On the whole I truly prefer veggie versions of meat favorites – salads without meat or dairy toppings, marinated veggie sandwiches instead of burgers, veggie stews instead of meat stews, veggie chili instead of…you get the idea.
But I’m not entirely opposed, especially where my kids are concerned… if they want veggie breakfast sausage, or chik patties, so be it.
Which brings us to the White Bean Chicken Chili. Despite Teen’s face, he ate it. We all did, and it was good. Guy and I shared more than a look – the Beyond Meat chicken tasted how we remember chicken. Shockingly so. And it’s vegan, GMO- and soy-free.
The chili itself was delish, and it would have been so even if we’d left out chicken, or used Field Roast Italian sausage, or tofu (pressed, seasoned, and baked). Our family would eat this recipe with or without “meat.” And yet, I won’t be surprised if I find myself popping a Beyond Meat package in my cart another time.
White Bean Chicken Chili
1 large onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried crushed red pepper
1 12-oz pkg Beyond Meat grilled chicken, diced (I used kitchen shears to cut strips into bites)
2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans (white kidney beans), drained and rinsed
1 c veggie broth
2 celery stalks, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 7-oz can diced green chilies (or sub 7-oz of prepared green salsa)
In a Dutch oven over medium heat, saute onion, garlic, cumin, oregano, and dried red pepper. Sauté 5 minutes, adding water by the tablespoon as necessary to avoid sticking. Add Beyond Chicken and cook approximately 5 minutes.
Drain and rinse beans. Add beans, broth + 1/2 c water, celery, bell pepper, and chilies or salsa. Simmer about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle chili into bowls. Top with your favorite chili toppings: cilantro, green onions, cheese, corn chips. Serve alongside crusty bread or corn bread.
Note: Beware of heat! I used green salsa instead of green chilies because I didn’t have chilies on hand. In fact, as crazy salsa-lovers, we had three open bottles of green salsa in the fridge: one hot (Hatch), one mild, and one family-approved. Season accordingly!